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Ned Desmond's posts

May 9th 2014

Disrupt New York Roundup

Yesterday TechCrunch concluded an epic, two-day Hackathon and three-day Disrupt at the Manhattan Center in New York City. This was TechCrunch's fifth go-round in New York and, in many ways, the best one yet. There were 2,000 attendees -- and there was the cast of HBO's Silicon Valley, who made this Disrupt without question the funniest ever.

Our Hackathon last weekend attracted 1,000 hackers, who spent the 24 hours over Saturday night concocting hacks based on our sponsors' APIs and their own interests. One innovation we introduced this year was to bring in a team of designers to help the coders, which they loved. The winner, VRban, was a virtual reality mashup of the Occulus (the crazy VR headset Facebook acquired for $2 billion) and urban mapping data from our sponsor ESRI. Very worthy of the $5,000 prize.

Disrupt itself kicked off on Monday and immediately spun out a lot of great moments, the best of which the edit team captured in this gallery of event memes The Battlefield startup competition was really a major standout. For those of you unfamiliar with the Battlefield, it's a startup competition at each Disrupt in which 25-30 companies, selected from hundreds of applicants, go on stage to compete for the Disrupt Cup and a check for $50,000. The top names in tech serve as judges. To date, 350 startups have competed, and together they have raised $2.4 billion - after appearing on our stage. Another 50 have already had exits. That makes Battlefield the best stage anywhere for startups eager to launch and wow the world. HBO must have noticed, because the last two episodes of their hit comedy, Silicon Valley, are shot at Disrupt Battlefield, which HBO meticulously re-created in a Hollywood studio.

Our judges were top VCs, including Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures, Chris Dixon from Andreessen Horowitz, and Roelof Botha from Sequoia, as well as our editors, Alexia Tsotsis and Matthew Panzarino, and they took two hours and a lot of intense back and forth to award the cup to Vurb, a super-useful mobile app. Runner up was an unconventional startup by TechCrunch standards, but really compelling to the judges and the audience: a new incredibly economical water heater from ISI Technology. One contender who did not win but caught fire online with 340,000 views for her onstage demo was Grace Choi's Mink makeup printer. Her promise to take down the big cosmetic brands with at-home cosmetics printing was, as we say, disruptive.

When the Battlefield wasn't raging, great interviews conducted by TechCrunch editors and its founder, Michael Arrington, provided plenty of drama. The founders of apps Whisper and Secret took a lot of heat for the grief they can cause - just ask Gwyneth. Marissa Mayer gamely defended Yahoo's strategy, and our own Matt Kaufman, fielded tough questions about CrunchBase 2.0 from Arrington and praised AOL's powerful commitment to the project. Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoroso also told her remarkable story.

Disrupt NYC 2014 is over, but the circus continues this September in San Francisco and October in London. Brace yourself.

Mar 10th 2014

TechCrunch Disrupt Touches Down in London

The city of London enjoys a formidable reputation as a fast-growing startup ecosystem - and now, it has a global tech media franchise to further speak to that.

We're excited to announce that London will be host city for the second TechCrunch DISRUPT Europe. Over the past few years, the city has built its technology credentials to offer entrepreneurs a fantastic environment to grow digital businesses - and we believe the capital is the perfect destination as TechCrunch continues to expand its coverage and presence globally.

Taking place at the Old Billingsgate in East London, our conference kicks-off with the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon on October 18, followed by two days of on-stage interviews and panels with some of the biggest names in tech. The speakers will not only provide insight and advice, but give first-hand knowledge on what it takes to build an industry-leading company.

Disrupt London will also welcome Startup Battlefield - where competitors pitch their companies live and on stage to innovators, investors and influencers in the tech community - and Startup Alley, which offers another way for early-stage companies to gain exposure with a format that encourages both exhibiting and networking, as well as high visibility.

For more details, check out TechCrunch's article here.

Jan 11th 2014

News at TechCrunch, With A Big Year on the Horizon

As you may know, Eric Eldon is leaving his role as co-editor of TechCrunch. He and Alexia did a masterful job of stabilizing TechCrunch during 2012 and making it better than ever in 2013.

Both Eric and Alexia agreed that Matthew Panzarino is the right fit to replace Eric as co-editor, and are confident he'll inject new energy and ideas into the editorial equation.

From my standpoint, this change shows how well the editorial team has prospered in the last two years. Today, the brand and the editorial team is more powerful and confident than ever. Thank you, Eric and Alexia, and the rest of your outstanding team.

Batons get passed, and it's always a lot easier when you are the frontrunner. This hand off was as smooth as any I've know.

You can read more on what Eric and Alexia had to say here & here.

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